In-the-know travellers and taste-makers have long sought out the wild beauty and memorable experiences that the island of Ireland has to offer. And there’s a good reason why…
Think glamorous castle hotels set on magnificent country estates; exhilarating landscapes filled with drama, beauty and romance; and intimate moments where you can really engage and experience the island’s exceptional history. Get set for the ultimate Ireland trip…
This historic capital beats with an inimitable energy, wears its beauty with pride, and always has a surprise up its sleeve.Explore Day 1
Exploring the Fair City
Dublin buzzes with convivial old pubs, cute cafés and cutting-edge restaurants. Wander its cobbled streets lined with buskers and peel back the centuries to discover one of Europe’s most exciting destinations.
A great way to get an overview of Dublin? It's got to be with a walking tour – and whatever your tastes, there’s always one to suit. Interested in Dublin’s literary history? Try the Private Dublin Literary Walking Tour and listen to the city described by some of Ireland’s leading literary lights including WB Yeats, James Joyce and George Bernard Shaw. Want to delve into Dublin’s culinary scene? Take one of the private walks with Fabulous Food Trails and meet artisan producers, try local dishes and get the inside track on the best places to eat in Dublin. And if you’d like to get an overview of Dublin and the places that make the city such a compelling place to visit, then try one of Pat Liddy’s Private Walking Tours.
The light-filled, conservatory-style environs of Wilde at the Westbury Hotel is an ideal place for lunch, overlooking the busy shopping district of Grafton Street. Then its on to the Guinness Storehouse, one of Dublin’s most popular and iconic attractions. On the Connoisseur Experience, you’ll be taken through the tastes, smells and story of Guinness with a Storehouse guide who delivers the inside scoop on Dublin’s world-famous stout. Is whiskey more your thing? A private tour of the Irish Whiskey Museum is a brilliant way to uncover the heritage behind a spirit that is known in Irish as “uisce beatha” or “water of life”.
Have room for some more? Drop into the National Gallery of Ireland on Merrion Square to see the incredible oil paintings from renowned Irish artist Jack B Yeats, as well as Caravaggio’s The Taking of Christ. This inspirational piece of art was discovered in a Dublin dining room in 1990 after having been presumed lost.
Lemuel’s cocktail bar at the Conrad Hotel, opposite Dublin’s National Concert Hall, is a chic spot for a pre-dinner drink with cocktails that pay homage to Gulliver’s Travels, a classic of Irish literature. From here, it’s a short stroll through St Stephen’s Green, Dublin’s historic park, to The Greenhouse Michelin-starred restaurant for dinner. Then back to the Merrion Hotel, an oasis of elegance and calm offering old-fashioned Irish hospitality with a VIP twist.
Travel down the scenic east coast of Ireland to discover grand country estates, historic lighthouses and a remarkable cliff-edge hotel.Explore Day 2
Experience an exquisite estate
Heralded as one of the most beautiful gardens in the world, Powerscourt Estate in County Wicklow is a joy to behold. With stunning green terraces sweeping down to a lily-pad covered lake that’s overlooked by the Sugar Loaf mountain, it’s a romantic, whimsical and dramatic place. Stroll through the Japanese Gardens, with their pagodas and little humpbacked bridges; browse the historic Walled Garden; and get lost amid rambling walking trails around the 47 acres of the estate.
The Powerscourt Hotel is situated on the grounds and makes an ideal place to enjoy a relaxed lunch-with-a-view at the Sika restaurant. On a warm day, lunch on the terrace here is perfection.
A historic lighthouse
After lunch, drive through the beautiful rural landscape of Wicklow and Wexford down to Hook Head Lighthouse, one of the oldest operational lighthouses in the world, which sits at the very tip of a dramatic peninsula. The tour here will bring you inside the 800-year-old tower to hear tales of monks, medieval history and modern lighthouse life.
A beautiful coastal route
Take the five-minute ferry across the historic River Suir from Ballyhack to Passage East and on to the village of Ardmore where the beautiful Cliff House Hotel is located on the edge of a cliff overlooking the water. Here you can enjoy dinner at the Michelin-starred restaurant, famed for its innovative and creative use of local ingredients, followed by a restful night’s sleep to the sound of the sea.
Enjoy the soft beauty of County Waterford in Ireland’s Ancient East with cliff walks, country houses and casual pub lunchesExplore Day 3
Unforgettable cliff walks
If you’re lucky enough to be visiting in February, then a Guided Whale Walk along the top of the Ardmore Cliffs is not to be missed. Otherwise the Cliff House Hotel offers plenty of wonderful walks to choose from, including a forage walk, which is perfect for learning more about the wild leaves, flowers, fruits and nuts of the area; or a self-guided stroll of the cliffs themselves, which offers beautiful seascape views, passes holy wells, shipwrecks and 19th century lookout posts, as well as the 12th century cathedral and round tower.
Explore a historic Irish home
Situated on a rocky outcrop overlooking the River Blackwater, Tourin House is a lovely historic house and gardens that offers a very personal insight into life in one of Ireland’s Georgian houses. A member of the family will give you a tour around the house and will bring you through 800 years of its history, before you can relax and enjoy the beautiful gardens here.
From castles to towers at Lismore
Head to the lovely Lismore Heritage Town next for a casual lunch at Foley’s traditional pub. Lismore is famous for its beautiful castle, Irish home of the Duke of Devonshire. Built in 1185, it is available for private luxury rental, and its gardens, which are open to visitors, date back to around 1605. Lismore Heritage Centre runs a variety of walks in and around the town, which are well worth taking. For something a little different, try the Ballysaggartmore Towers Walk, which brings you through a beautiful wooded area.
Transfer to Ballymaloe House, a beautiful family-run country house hotel, famous for its excellent food.
From the gentle grace of Ballymaloe to the wild drama of West Cork, get set for the start of the Wild Atlantic Way.Explore Day 4
A stroll through a walled garden
After enjoying breakfast at Ballymaloe, join their head gardener on a behind-the-scenes tour of the house’s walled garden. It’s a great way to gain an insight into Irish herbs, salad and vegetable growing.
The coastal beauty of Kinsale
More food is on the way in the beautiful coastal town of Kinsale, located at the start (or finish, depending on your direction) of the Wild Atlantic Way. Originally a medieval fishing port, the town is a delightful mix of colourful buildings and a spectacular harbour, where yachts bob gently in the breeze. Take your time to enjoy the town, and its lovely craft shops, before visiting Charles Fort, a star-shaped military fortress dating back to the 17th century. Keen golfers should hotfoot it instead to the Old Head Golf Links, one of the most breathtaking courses on the island.
Amazing food and local flavours
Kinsale’s standout restaurant is Bastion, a Michelin-starred delight that offers contemporary cooking with a very strong Irish backdrop. It’s only open for dinner, so it’s a good option should you decide to overnight in Kinsale, otherwise drop into the lovely Fishy Fishy Café to sample some of the best seafood options around, served fresh daily.
Off the beaten track in West Cork
The scenery of West Cork is some of the most beautiful on the island: wild, raw and dramatic, and it’s definitely worth taking the time to enjoy some of it. On the way to the town of Kenmare in County Kerry, head off the beaten track to the magnificent Gougane Barra Forest Park, in a beautiful green valley at the foot of the Sheehy mountains. It’s an incredible place for a walk into pure wilderness and was the site of a 6th century Christian monastery founded by St Finbarr. In need of refreshments? Pop into the lovely Gougane Barra Hotel for scones and homemade jam in the sitting room.
Onwards next to Kenmare in County Kerry, where your rest for the night is the delightful Park Hotel Kenmare with its lovely Champagne Bar, Dining Room and Samás Spa.
It’s all about the great outdoors today with the staggering scenery of County Kerry giving way to the heritage of County Limerick.Explore Day 5
Discover a stunning national park
Killarney National Park beckons next. Designated as a Biosphere Reserve in 1981 by UNESCO, the park is a huge expanse of rugged, mountainous landscape dotted with the glistening Lakes of Killarney. The park’s focal point is Muckross House, a beautiful 19th century mansion, close to the shores of Muckross Lake. Visit the house, gardens and traditional farms here as well as the Mucros Weavers and Pottery.
Boat trips and pony traps
Fancy exploring further afield? A lovely option if you plan to stay a little longer is taking the boat from the 15th century Ross Castle, through the idyllic lower and middle lakes to Lord Brandon’s Cottage. From there you can take a lovely pony and trap through a stunning mountain pass to Kate Kearney’s Cottage, where you can enjoy a relaxed lunch in the restaurant. For those shorter on time, after visiting Killarney National Park, lunch at the elegant Killarney Park Hotel before transferring to the lovely village of Adare in County Limerick.
A thatched-cottage village
Famed for its pretty thatched cottages, Adare is a delightful little town with lovely restaurants including the acclaimed 1826 Adare. To get to know it a little better, take a private walking tour with Adare Heritage Walking Tours. Finally, settle in for a relaxing night with a stay in the luxurious Adare Manor, where you can enjoy dinner at the Michelin-starred Oak Room restaurant, followed by a traditional music session in one of Adare’s many traditional pubs.
Fairytale castles, fabulous works of art and fantastic ways to see the Cliffs of Moher. Get set for a fun-filled day.Explore Day 6
Enjoying the Adare Manor Estate
Adare Manor offers a multitude of special experiences to enjoy on its magnificent estate. You can spend time with some beautiful Irish Labradors with the Irish Gundog Experience; you can try your hand at clay-pigeon shooting; or enjoy a spot of archery along the delightful River Maigue, which flows through the estate.
A unique museum experience
Heading through Limerick on your way to County Clare, it’s worth stopping off at one of the city’s most exquisite treasures: the Hunt Museum. Take the private guided tour here and you can fully immerse yourself in the fascinating collection of John and Gertrude Hunt, who gathered an incredible array of artefacts and artworks over their lifetime. As well as works by Picasso, Renoir and Gaugin, you’ll discover Bronze Age shields, monastic bells and Roman trinkets. Best of all are the stories behind them. It’s a truly mesmerising place.
Star of the Wild Atlantic Way
Next is the Wild Atlantic Way’s stellar attraction: the Cliffs of Moher. Pathways, viewing platforms and cliff walks ensure that you’ve got staggering Atlantic views in all directions. The cliffs are part of the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark, which comprises a 330-million-year-old limestone plateau edged by the crashing, turbulent Atlantic Ocean. Want to see them from above? Try a private helicopter tour. Prefer to see them by sea? Take the private, tailored Seafari tour with Doolin Ferry – you can organise a bespoke tour that can bring you out to the Aran Islands, as well as to coastal restaurants.
A Burren food experience
The Burren is well known for its food, and wonderful spots such as the Michelin-starred Wild Honey Inn, and the delightful Burren Food and Wine (who also run excellent eco tours and experiences in the area) are must-visits if you’re staying a little longer. Dinner in the dining room at Gregan’s Castle is another experience not to be missed, but lunch in the Corkscrew Bar is also a pleasure with local oysters, Burren Smokehouse smoked salmon and homemade scones among the treats.
Exploring the Burren
If you’d like to discover more about the Burren, join a private guided walk to learn about its ecology, history and heritage. Otherwise, pay a visit to The Burren Perfumery, a small family company that creates cosmetics and perfumes inspired by the surrounding landscape. You can visit the blending room and herb garden here before relaxing with coffee and cake in their pretty Tea Rooms.
Transfer to the 800-year-old grand country castle of Ashford and enjoy a private wine tasting and dinner in the cellar, or a lavish feast in the impressive George V Dining Room.
End your trip on a high with an amazing day that starts with VIP experiences on the Ashford Estate and ends with dinner in one of the island’s finest restaurants.Explore Day 7
From falconry to walks with wolfhounds
There are so many exceptional experiences to enjoy at Ashford that it’s hard to know where to start. You can discover the ancient art of falconry at the oldest established falconry school in Ireland; you can go lake cruising around the staggering scenery of Lake Corrib; or enjoy a walk with the Irish wolfhounds around the magical estate gardens. Pay a visit to the charming little town of Cong on the edge of the estate and enjoy a browse around its art and craft stores before heading to Galway city.
Medieval delights and food to cherish
Enjoy a Galway city walking tour to get to know the history and heritage of this incredible medieval city, and visit the city’s attractions including Lynch’s Castle, Kirwan’s Lane and the Spanish Arch. Galway has a buzzing food scene with two Michelin-starred restaurants, Aniar and Loam, but for lunch try the relaxed and award-winning Kai restaurant on Sea Road in Galway’s West End. The focus here is on wild or organic produce, sourced locally and cooked with imagination and creativity in an environment that boasts traditional stone floors and chunky wooden furniture.
After lunch, head inland towards the 6th century monastic site of Clonmacnoise on the banks of Ireland’s magnificent River Shannon in Ireland’s Ancient East. The ruins here include a cathedral, two round towers, high crosses, churches and hundreds of Early Christian grave slabs.
Rock of ages
It’s worth taking the detour slightly into County Laois to see the Rock of Dunamase on your way to County Kildare. This imposing fortress sitting on a rocky outcrop boasts incredible views of the surrounding countryside and was part of a dowry given by the King of Leinster for his daughter Aoife to the Norman conqueror Strongbow in 1170.
Onwards to County Kildare and the trip finishes at Aimsir at Cliff at Lyons.